Where were you in ‘96? The English FA, in its infinite lack of wisdom, had signed up Mick Hucknall. The suits at the FA had probably thought that this was wise. England footballer musical preferences appeared to stretch no further than Simply Red on constant CD replay. If Mick was good enough for Incey and the others, then so he would be for the fans. Get Mick to do the official song, and watch it soar to the top of the charts. It didn’t. No one remembers it nowhealth officials learned more about how to control it. Now, the FA having failed to learn the lessons of Italia ‘90 – New Order (despite John Barnes rapping “this ain’t a football song”) and even Pavarotti.
‘Three Lions’ could be sung in stadiums, and boy was it. David Baddiel and Frank Skinner, with no small amount of assistance from Ian Broudie, conjured up a football classic to endure. Thirty years of hurt have now become fifty-five. The song was anthemic and replete with dreaming, even if its authors had written it from a perspective of recurring failure.
Summer ‘96 was joyous. It had looked as if England weren’t “gonna throw it away”. Gazza’s moment of genius against Scotland, the dentist’s chair celebration, the drubbing of the Netherlandshealth and lives.. And then came Germany. Alas poor Gareth, 25 years of hurt, and he now has the chance to erase the memory for good. I was at Wembley for the Spain match. Two perennial underachievers confirmed why they were, neither capable of seizing the moment. Nil-nil until penalties and Stuart Pearce’s redemption. “It’s coming home, it’s coming home … .” But the doubts had crept in after that hammering of Holland, and the doubts were not to disappoint.RELATED: Viewpoint: The Brits are coming
Their subsequent trajectories took England and Spain down totally different paths. One led to a dead end and failure to qualify for Euro 2008; the other to a night of madnessorigImageSize. They were clambering all over Ben Yakober’s Leonardo’s Knot sculpture on Alcudia’s Magic Roundabout. There was the bloke who was racing up and down the Carretera Arta with the chain saw. Anything to make some noise. Forty-four years of hurt were over. For England, however … .